#Article (Archive)

Detention without trial

Jun 5, 2012, 12:19 PM

It is nearly seven months since President Yahya Jammeh was elected for a fourth five-year term as President of the Republic of The Gambia, after Gambians voted massively for him.

Translated into plain terms, the victory shows that Gambians are happy with the way he has been running the affairs of state, since 1994. In a democracy, power resides with the people.

But in an editorial written shortly after his election entitled “Gambians Have Spoken”, we made some important points expressing, among others, the need for the rule of law to be given pride of place in the spirit of good governance in the next five years.

We emphasized the need for due process to be followed at all times, so that human rights are always seen to be respected as Gambians will be happy to see that no one is detained for more than 72 hours without trial.

We stated in that editorial that the President’s much expected magnanimity should also extend to giving amnesty to all those who might have offended him and up to now remain in detention, for the sake of national unity.

We also mentioned that in light of this new political dawn, there is need for greater tolerance and accommodation of those always pejoratively termed as unpatriotic simply because they are opposition supporters.

We emphasised that President Jammeh, now more than ever before, has a chance to prove himself as a true national leader free of animosity towards any group.

It was also stated as our view that President Jammeh should open a new page in his relations with the press and the international community, to work with them harmoniously in the interest of the nation.

President Jammeh should accept criticism and promote divergent views and freedom of expression in the country.

To drive home our point, news of the arrest and detention of Ba Kawsu Fofana has dominated the headlines of the major newspapers, and even radio stations in this country. Though we are yet to get an official confirmation of this, the family has confirmed that, since last Thursday, they are yet to set eyes on their loved one.

According to the family, Ba Kawsu was picked up by men in plainclothes who first visited his house in Sanchaba Sulay Jobe, but were told that he went to attend a ceremony in Brikama.

The constitution of the Republic of the Gambia is very clear on this. What it says is that no one should be detained for more than 72 hours without appearing before a court or be released on bail.

Whatever Ba Kawsu is suspected to have done, whether wrong or right; we believe that he should be told about it and, if need be, brought before a court of law or else be released.

Anything that goes against this is a total violation of the Constitution of this Republic, and will not tell well against the regime.

A word for the wise is enough!


“Detention without trial is a violation of human rights,”